A bill that would require all hospitals in Connecticut, including Catholic hospitals, to provide emergency contraception to women who have been raped is being strongly opposed by the Catholic Church and is causing serious debate in the state legislature, reports The Associated Press.
Eight months ago, the state’s Catholic bishops recommended that Catholic hospitals adopt a practice that was begun in a Catholic hospital in Peoria, Ill.It requires doctors to conduct tests to determine whether a woman has ovulated. If she hasn't ovulated, they can prescribe the drug. If she has, they cannot prescribe emergency contraception because it could interfere with pregnancy.
According to the AP, Catholic hospitals in Hartford, Bridgeport, Waterbury and New Havenhave been following the “Peoria Protocol” since January. If they can't prescribe the drug, doctors provide the rape victim with a list of places where she can receive it, and transportation to get there if necessary, reported the AP.
Barry Feldman, general counsel for St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, explained the Catholic position before the legislature's Public Health Committee last week. He testified on behalf of the Connecticut Catholic Hospitals Council.
"Catholic moral teachings allow the woman to protect herself from possible conception as a result of the assault so long as any medications administered to do so do not cause an abortion," he said, reported the AP.
Similar legislation already exists in other states. Massachusetts, California, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, South Carolina and Washington require hospitals to dispense the drug and do not exempt Catholic hospitals. Twelve other states are considering similar legislation, reported the AP. Only New Jersey and New York include provisions that prevent the pill from being given if a woman is already pregnant.